A new cultural industry on the rising

*In Collaboration with Rita Maschwitz

For many years, art was enjoyed by going to galleries, museums, and cultural centers. To do so, not only one had to know where and when to go but also artists had to have access to those spaces to be able to show their work.

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In recent years our society has been going through great changes. With the emergence of new technologies, our lifestyle and our way of connecting with others have changed radically, and so does the art world.

Since its inception, Art has been associated with a sensory experience. Direct contact with the artwork was the only way to perceive its precious aura.

In the early 20th Century, the era of technical reproducibility, photography threatened this concept and it was no longer necessary to go to the museum to see the Gioconda and have a “unique, original and unrepeatable” experience.

Almost a century later the appearance of e-commerce technology was quickly incorporated into the buying habits of people. Food, technology, clothing, accessories, everything can be bought online … but in the art world?

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Contrary to all, the art world does not seem to embrace the idea of ??traditional e-commerce. Today, most art galleries do not offer this service on their web pages. But, in recent years various virtual strategies have been emerging to boost online sales: alternative art spaces, network promotion, virtual rooms, online auctions, etc.

In 2017,  we saw the emergence of DIDEROT, one of the first art e-commerce in Argentina. A virtual gallery focused on contemporary art, DIDEROT offers more than 500 works of art online. With a system similar to that of other Internet shopping site, it proposes a 100% digital experience by including a variety of services and solutions that accompany and improve the experience of looking and buying works of art online.

Virtual assemblies, advice to buy and a good logistics service realize that just “going digital” is no longer enough, it is necessary to go digital and rethink traditional habits and customs.

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One of the pioneers in providing a traditional e-commerce service was ARTSY, an online platform for galleries that managed to open the art market to the online world by working with recognized galleries, art institutions, and international fairs. The site presents a large catalog of works and each user can build its own collectors profile. ARTSY managed to define and transmit a message that was fundamental to its identity: to create a connection between the two ends of the thread, the seller and the buyer.

These changes have gradually helped the art world incorporate a new language that is radically different from its millenary tradition. As we mentioned earlier, one of the most radical changes happened to the buyer’s experience. By approaching an artwork in a virtual way, the sensory contact is delayed until the moment he buys the work and receives it in his home.

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A new experience is born. The meeting with the artwork is different from the one living in a gallery or museum. The entire cycle occurs digitally and as such it implies a moment of truth: Did it meet the expectations?

To have a good buying experience with an e-commerce  not only the product has to be what you expected, but also the whole process must work well. For this reason we recommend you take into account certain processes and emotions the buyer goes through.

To consider:

1) Present all available information about the work of art. Open contact channels to clarify inquiries.

2) Explain the forms and means of payment to make the purchase virtually. They must be simple, fast and follow the standardized mechanisms of e-commerce. It is essential to inspire confidence in the buyer.

3) Delivery logistics is a key step in the purchase process. As a virtual gallery, we can do everything well but if the logistics company loses the work or damages it during shipment, the client will be discontent and possibly, he will not trust us or the experience again.

4) Post-sale. The cycle with the client does not end with the delivery of the work. It is a good option to offer assembly services and advice to hang/locate works of art in their homes. Likewise, it is important to keep the client informed about the future activities of the artists, their exhibitions and awards. Encouraging and teaching about good art collecting is a good way to create lasting links with customers.

The ways of looking are changing. More and more technology is advancing into our daily lives and we are relying more on what we see on our screens than in direct contact. We are at cusp, and this is creating new forms of experiencing art. Whenever there are changes, there is resistance, many times it is not easy to adjust to the new, but when something changes, and that change comes from outside, we must accommodate as quickly as possible … adapt and follow. Value the good that comes with the new and improves what you don’t like so much.

Photo by Alicia Steels on Unsplash
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